And neither he nor the various winners disappointed. From the opening number, which featured a call for political action from Chance the Rapper, to a wry reference to the president from Alec Baldwin, to a shocking cameo by a former administration official, these Emmys really went there.
It wasn’t all politics, of course. There was funny banter, there were heartwarming moments, there were cocktails.
Here are our highs and lows from this year’s Emmys.
HIGH: Alec Baldwin is Trump’s Emmy proxy
Donald Trump is Emmy-less no more! Well … his Saturday Night Live dopplegänger isn’t, at least. Alec Baldwin picked up his statue for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy and alerted POTUS right off the top, “At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy.” Baldwin also joked the “orange wig” that he wears as Trump has functioned as an ideal means of birth control before ending his speech on a serious note. “For all of you out there in motion pictures and television, don’t stop doing what you’re doing — the audience is counting on you.” — Ethan Alter
HIGH: Sterling gets the gold
It’s been 19 years since a black actor has won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy. And Sterling K. Brown had a personal message for the man who preceded him on the stage, Andre Braugher. “Whether it is at Stanford University or on this stage, it is my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps.” He also gave a hilarious shout-out to his This Is Us family, calling them “the best white TV family that a brother has ever had, better than Mr. Drummond, better than the white folks that raised Webster.” Unfortunately, he was also a victim of one of the night’s big losers … that overeager orchestra. For more on that, read on. — EA
LOW: Cutting the winners (really) short
Awards show orchestras are notorious for their itchy trigger fingers, playing off winners when they’re still in midspeech. And this year’s Emmy orchestra was quick, too quick, to clear the stage, interrupting heartfelt speeches by Laura Dern, Kate McKinnon, and Ann Dowd, among others. (On the other hand, Dern’s Big Little Lies co-star Nicole Kidman was allowed nearly three minutes to speak her mind without interruption.) That definitely wasn’t music to our ears. — EA
HIGH: Diverse firsts
The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards ensured they’d be enshrined forever in Emmy history with a pair of groundbreaking, and wholly deserving, wins. Early in the evening, Atlanta creator Donald Glover became the first African-American director in TV history to win Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. (Glover’s Outstanding Actor in a Comedy win was also the first for a black actor in that category since Robert Guillaume in 1985.) Later on Master of None‘s Lena Waithe chalked up the first victory for an African-American woman in the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category for her autobiographical episode, “Thanksgiving.” — EA
LOW: In Memoriam MIAs
Really, Emmys? You remember Roger Ailes’s passing but leave Harry Dean Stanton, Dick Gregory, and Sam Shepard out of the In Memoriam reel? (And don’t even get us started on those weird picture frames.) Other lost artists that were sadly overlooked include Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, and Glenne Headly. — EA
HIGH: The ladies of ‘9 to 5’ reunite
The three stars of 1990’s classic comedy film 9 to 5 — Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin — reunited to present the Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category, and these firecrackers were on fire! “Back in 1980 in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” Fonda noted. Tomlin followed up by saying that in 2017, they still refuse (to be controlled by President Trump, duh). Work it, ladies! — Kelly Woo
LOW: Seth MacFarlane’s voices
Memo to MacFarlane: Save the funny voices for Family Guy. The star of the new sci-fi series The Orville thought it would be hysterical to invent six different voices to represent each of the six nominees in the Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or Movie category. Despite his promise that each of the voices would be unique, they all sounded the same to us: lame. — EA
HIGH: Chance the Rapper’s activist rap
Stephen Colbert’s opening musical number rocked, but the best part was rapped. Chance the Rapper showed up in a surprise cameo to lay down a couple of verses, which were definitely political in a thoughtful way. “I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine / In fact, I’m addicted / But where’s the cop show where one gets convicted?” And he urged TV fans to turn out for political action just as they do for their favorite shows. “I get it, them finales / They got you focused / But just record the show / And show up at the protest.” — KW
LOW: Shailene Woodley, TV denier
Does Shailene Woodley realize that the Emmy Awards honor the best in television? The actress may have been nominated for her work on Big Little Lies, but she wasn’t watching it at home … because she doesn’t own a TV. Nah, Woodley is one of those people who can’t wait to tell you she’d rather curl up with a good book than switch on the idiot box. “All my friends who watch TV, I always just ask them when they have time to,” she noted drily on the Emmys red carpet. “I’m a reader. So I always read a book instead of turning on my TV.” We’re sure everyone at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was thrilled to hear it. — KW
HIGH: Oliver schools Twitter
From #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain to #JustAddZebras, John Oliver has never met a Twitter hashtag he’s not able to get trending. And he worked his magic again while accepting his Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Emmy. Playing off of a Dave Chappelle joke from earlier in the night, the Last Week Tonight host encouraged viewers at home to attach #DCPublicSchools to all their Emmy-related Tweets. Almost as soon as he uttered those words, #DCPublicSchools indeed started trending. Can we get #OliverForEmperor trending next? — EA
HIGH: Emmy gets a supermodel moment
Stephen Colbert got the inside gossip on the awards statuettes from Emmy herself (RuPaul). “Honey, get out your china because I am ready to spill the tea, OK?” she said before dishing on Oscar (cute but maybe a little crazy), Tony (has a jealous husband), and People’s Choice (“that b**** is messy!”). But Emmy had a word for potential winners that night. “Don’t say you’re surprised how heavy I am, because that’s just plain rude.” — KW
LOW: Why is that dude yelling?
In an unfortunate effort to make its sitcom comedy Superior Donuts happen, CBS hired star Jermaine Fowler as the Emmys announcer. The plan backfired, because Fowler was incredibly grating with his shouting and lame side jokes. — KW
HIGH: Stephen and Jimmy drown their sorrows
Host Stephen Colbert and fellow late night host Jimmy Kimmel toasted their mutual loss to John Oliver in the Best Variety Talk Series category … with a specialty drink dubbed “The Last Week Tonight.” As Kimmel described it, “It’s a dry British cocktail.” Colbert declared it was very good. “It’s so high-quality, apparently they can only make one a week.” Bottoms up, losers! — KW
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